How to Drink at a Bar Mitzvah

by Culture & Society Editor

A Bar Mitzvah is a coming of age ceremony for Jewish men when they reach the age of 13. Like many celebratory Jewish events and rituals, alcohol is part of the Bar Mitzvah and is even considered to be a gift of joy. However, it's important that you drink correctly at a Bar Mitzvah so you keep with the customs and traditions of the ceremony. Follow these steps to drink at a Bar Mitzvah.

Know the kind of Judaism of the family. In no sect or tradition of Judaism is alcohol forbidden. However, the method and traditions of consumption differ amongst the different sects. More strictly observant Jews do not permit men and women to drink together for non-religious reasons, for instance. In Conservative or Reform services, the sexes can drink and celebrate together in public.

Drink for the kiddush. The kiddush is a prayer that is often performed at the end of the Bar Mitzvah ceremony. The rabbi or leader of the ceremony will raise a cup of wine and say a prayer. At the end of the prayer the congregation will say "Amen." At this point, you can drink or sip from your cup of wine with the rest of the congregation.

Say "l'chaim." Many people at a Bar Mitzvah know that the words "mazal tov" mean congratulations. However, when drinking a toast to the Bar Mitzvah boy, you should raise your glass and say, "l'chaim." If you have trouble with the Hebrew pronunciation or would just rather toast in English then clink glasses and say the English translation of the phrase which is "to life."

Stay modest. It's always important to remember that a Bar Mitzvah is a community event that centers around a child becoming a man. As such, there is likely to be many other children at the ceremony. While you might see some family members, even very religious ones, drinking heavily, they do so in the context of a religious celebration. As a guest, you should drink moderately so you stay in control of yourself and respect the traditions of the ceremony.

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